Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Hi Hi

Transferes rolled around and Elder Gray was moved out of
Akpakpa and into his new area Gbegamey. ( Beg-a-may ) He's working
with the fantastically awesome Elder Bulunga. Forgive the informality
of this next little bit, but Elder Bulunga is a total boss. I don't
really have much else to say. He is an awesome missionary that teaches
with all the power and authority that us other missionaries hope to
one day obtain.

      This week has been the most efficient, most intense, and most
awesome seven days of my life. We hit up lessons like shooting rubber
duckies in a bathtub. Our week was FULL with lessons to teach, people
to serve, and activites to bring people to a better knowledge of the
gospel. Heavenly Father blessed us with the miracle of having nearly
every single one of our appointments go through, and for those that
didn't work out the back up plan did. We didn't have more than 15
minutes go by this entire week without knowing where we were going or
what we were teaching. It was fantastic.

      I hope you all have an awesome week! Love you lots!

                  -Elder Gray

Elder Bulunga, Elder Gray and Elder Maxwell

A Couple of Pictures from Elder Grays new area.

Elder Gray and Borris
A Very Big Big BIG Bug! ! !

Ramblings from Elder Semkens

13 December 2013

To all of you,
     The Christmas season is very different from the season of years past for these missionaries.   There are few Christmas songs, the stories of Christmas that they heard before their missions are only in their memories, there are no pageants, I have yet to hear anything about the birth of the Savior from the pulpits, nor Sunday School classes, and none in Relief Society nor Priesthood.  Likewise, I have not heard a seasons greeting.  Last Sunday I visited with a Branch President and told him what Christmas was like at home.  He said that they don't know the hymns nor songs of Christmas.  He hadn't thought about the Christmas story as a possible subject for talks.  I think that somehow these marvelous people will get something from Christmas the next two Sundays.  
    The current make up of the mission is; 20 sisters,half of the Elders are from the states & Europe half of the elders are from Africa.  Your sons are very diligent in their work and they are glad the Christmas season is here.   They are teaching by word, deed, and example the reason for the great Christmas message to the world.  ...For unto us a child is born....
They remember the sweet times of home.  They remember their families and friends.  They are happy.
     Their work has changed their lives and you will be so surprised when they return.   They are surprised at themselves!  One of our soon to be released missionaries made the following comments:  Said he; As I reflect upon my mission I contemplate some scriptures and quoted from Mosiah 2: 20-24, I am so blessed because of the change that has been wrought in my life.  I want to just bawl. He expressed in such a humble manner that he hopes that he can continue to do what is asked of him and expressed a willingness to do so.  He expressed gratefulness to the message he was privileged to deliver and thankfulness to his family, friends, leaders and others who helped him along the way."  I know his sentiments mirror what your sons say and think.
    Not that this work is easy.  I look at their shoes, dirty and worn out from walking long distances on dusty roads.  I look at their yellow colored collars.  The creases in their trousers are almost non-existent, they are stained.  Their meals are scanty but sufficient.  The heat takes a lot out of them.  On P-day their wash tubs turn to mud as they put their shirts, socks, underclothing into the water to clean with their hands and rub the dirt out until the the skin on their knuckles are nearly worn off.  They sleep with a fan on hoping to be comfortable.  Can you imagine this?  And they then say, most of the time,  "today is the best day of my life".   I reverence their love and devotion.
     They love to teach, they love the people.  They wish that everyone would come a partake of the fruit of the tree of life.  But, they have the disappointments of people not being able to come to the table and feast at the Lord's table.  But, they know that the message delivered will resonate into the lives of those who are just not quite ready.  They rejoice with those who come into the waters of baptism and begin a new life.  
     The language and customs can be very challenging as well, both of the people here and their companions who they grow to love as they mature in the nature of their missionary call.  
      We are grateful to all of you for your love and concern for your valient sons, the Lord knows them, and he takes care of them.  Just as he took care of our forefathers.   Through the trials of living we are prepared to receive great blessings.  Blessings that we can't even begin to imagine.
      Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season,
           Elder & Sister Semken

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Elder Gray finally got to go to the Python Temple and this was the result! OH be still my trembling mommy heart!!!!!

Hey Mommy :D

Hey You!

I hope you know that everything here is going just fine, okay?

The package you sent was perfect. It made Thanksgiving bearable. Elder Baker and I went out and bought a whole chicken! It was lots of fun. We thought about buying a live one and cooking it ourselves…….but then we realized that probably wouldn't work out as well. Maybe next year.

Anyway. Everything is going great. I'll be able to talk to y'all soon.

Have an awesome week!

-Elder Gray

There's proof he got the package, it was for Christmas but who's counting, Looks like the Oreos and peanut butter were a big hit.

Two Elders One Camera

Elder Christensen and Elder Gray
       Shriners in Training?

Elder Gray is going to miss Elder Christenesen

Francisca, Mougchi, Aminat, Kadgchi, Elder Gray,  Mary, and Ahmed


Mougchi, Francisca, and Elder Gray


Dear Sister Gray,  These missionaries were in the bureau today renewing their Visas.  I thought it would be fun to send a picture of these wonderful missionaries to their Moms.  Missionaries:  I think you can recognize Elder Gray!!, Then Elders: Allred, Montross, Hawkins, Mary, Sister Semken, Kimzey, Ravelojoana, Ouonnebo,and in the back Elder Ta.  If we did not have a calendar Thanksgiving would have slipped by us.  We are all grateful to be serving a wonderful mission in Benin.  Today Elder Gray was talking to Elder Hawkins, and I thought hey I know both their Moms.  Then Elder Gray said that you know Sister Hawkins from emails.  I hope your family has a very Happy Thanksgiving!!
Soeur Semken


We didn't get a letter from Elder Gray this week so this made our Thanksgiving EXTRA Thankful.